Panera adds PIZZA to its menus for the first time ever

Panera Bread is adding pizza to its menus. 

The sandwich and bakery chain announced on Wednesday that customers can now order three different types of flatbread in stores: Cheese, Margherita, and Chipotle Chicken & Bacon. 

‘Our guests have been asking for this for years,’ Panera Bread’s chief brand and concept officer, Eduardo Luz, said in a press release. ‘We think Panera’s bread heritage and outstanding ingredients meet both the desire for high quality, crafted pizza as well as a growing customer off-premise behavior.’

Time for lunch? Panera Bread is adding pizza to its menus

Time for lunch? Panera Bread is adding pizza to its menus

Variety: The chain announced on Wednesday that customers can now order three different types of flatbread in stores: Cheese, Margherita, and Chipotle Chicken & Bacon

Variety: The chain announced on Wednesday that customers can now order three different types of flatbread in stores: Cheese, Margherita, and Chipotle Chicken & Bacon

The company began testing the pizzas last year and is now offering them at $8 to $9 each. 

‘At Panera, baking is at the core of who we are and what we’re known for — we knew that we had all the elements to bring our delicious, hearty flatbreads to life,’ added Claes Petersson, Panera’s Chief Food & Innovation Officer.

‘With the launch of Flatbread pizza, we are looking to redefine the expectation of pizza and carve out a niche for Panera in the pizza category. 

‘Our Flatbread Pizzas encompass the best of what Panera has to offer: clean, delicious ingredients from our pantry on top of oven-baked flatbread that is expertly crafted for our guests.’ 

Ready to go: The company began testing the pizzas last year and is now offering them at $8 to $9 each

Ready to go: The company began testing the pizzas last year and is now offering them at $8 to $9 each

Earlier this year, Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary announced the partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Children's Hunger Alliance to provide meals to needy children in Ohio

Earlier this year, Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary announced the partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Children’s Hunger Alliance to provide meals to needy children in Ohio 

Earlier this year, Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary announced the partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Children’s Hunger Alliance to provide meals to needy children in Ohio.

The announcement was a part of an effort from the federal government to create public-private connections to help feed needy children who can’t eat free meals at school due to coronavirus shutdowns.

Starting April 6, the restaurant chain worked to deliver ‘ready-to-eat’ meal boxes to the Children’s Hunger Alliance. The Ohio-based non-profit works with organizations meals to ‘at-risk’ children in daycares, schools, and summer programs.

Each meal included a choice of salads, sandwiches, and veggie snack boxes.

‘Today, more than ever, it is clear to us that access to nutritious food is an undeniable right – especially to those most vulnerable, such as children, during this time of crisis. We are grateful for the opportunity to support our communities,’ Chaudhary said.

Coming up: Panera announced that it plans to make at least half of its menu plant-based in the next few years

Coming up: Panera announced that it plans to make at least half of its menu plant-based in the next few years

And in January, the chain announced that it plans to make at least half of its menu plant-based in the next few years. 

Chaudhary told Business Insider that a quarter of its menu offerings are already plant-based, but it plans to increase that significantly.   

‘We already have strong credentials on plant-based,’ he said. ‘Twenty-five per cent of our menu items are plant-based. With just one customization, sixty per cent of our menu is plant-based.’

Chaudhary pointed to a growing trend of customers cutting back on meat for reasons of nutrition, animal welfare, and sustainability.

Panera wants to meet that demand and do its part to positively impact the environment. 

Updates: Chaudhary said that a quarter of its menu offerings are already plant-based, but it plans to increase that significantly

Updates: Chaudhary said that a quarter of its menu offerings are already plant-based, but it plans to increase that significantly

‘It’s more about better for you, and better for the world, and better for the environment, and better for animals,’ he said. 

‘I think consumers are recognizing that — mostly the younger consumers, they feel more accountable for that.’ 

Panera’s vice president of wellness and food policy, Sara Burnett, added that consumers are ‘more and more knowledgeable [about climate change],’ and seeking plant-based food offerings is ‘going to become a bigger motivation for consumers over time.’ 

The chain, she said, is thinking not just about how their ingredients taste, but whether they ‘have a positive effect on people and planet.’

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